Excommunication, Martyrdom, and Many Trials, Oh My!
If you had been following someone who promised to be the Messiah or rescuer and then He began to prophesy events to warn you so that you won’t abandon your faith when hard times came your way, would you continue to follow Him?
That’s exactly what the disciples did and that’s what we have to accept today. Jesus gives many hard truths in the gospels that we have to accept if you want to truly follow Him.
- He prophesies His death, the scattering of the disciples afterwards, and his isolation from everyone except the Father.
- He promises they will be expelled from the synagogues for believing in Jesus and may be martyred for their faith.
- He promises many trials and sorrows.
But after the warnings, He gives precious promises of how they are to endure to the end not abandoning their faith.
- The Advocate (Holy Spirit) will come to convict the world of sin, God’s righteousness, and coming judgement.
- The Holy Spirit will guide us in to all truth, communicate messages from God, tell us about the future, and whatever He receives from Jesus.
- He promises to overcome the grave, bringing joy after sorrow. He instructs them to pray in His name and to have courage because He has overcome the world!
The Christian life is filled with blessings, but not always in the way the world considers blessed. Rain falls on the just and unjust, yet Jesus promises us hope and a future in the midst of trials. That’s something this world can not give.
As I’ve read through the book of John, I’ve personally been convicted from placing too much weight and emphasis/wasting too much time worrying about earthly kingdoms and solutions.
As followers of Christ we do not belong to an earthly kingdom, but the Kingdom of God. Our solutions aren’t in the state house or White House, but God’s house.
Jesus exposed to us that the world will continue to operate in the sin of refusal to believe in Jesus (John 16:9).
Yet believers operate in faith, being convicted of sin, God’s righteousness, and coming judgment, trusting in the righteousness that comes from God (John 16:8), and the belief that judgment is coming for those who turn away from those truths (John 16:8). Jesus says, “The ruler of this world has already been judged.” John 16:1-33
The only hope for the world is a turning towards Jesus in repentance and faith. It’s our job as believers to Iive out of the overflow of what Jesus has done for us and by His command to be salt and light. I don’t know if the times we are living in are a manifestation of a Romans 1 type judgment of God on our culture or if it is just the symptoms of a generation who has chosen worldliness over evangelizing the lost.
When I hear of someone making choices with negative consequences for others around them, first thought is not judgment, but startling heartbreak, the same as when I hear of someone in my community dying. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be and it’s not the way it has to be. My mind always goes to, “Did anyone ever share the love of Jesus with them?”
Many trials may soon come, but there are ones we bring on ourselves that could be prevented by trusting in Jesus and pointing others to Him.
In John 16:24 Jesus instructs us to pray using His name and in Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray.
I heard this sermon version quoted by Elisabeth Elliot last week and wanted to share. It put things in perspective for me and I had to check my heart to see if I was being honest when I utter these words to God and made me second guess the use of this prayer in a flippant way. After her phrase “I can not” I’d personally add “honestly.”
I can not say “Our” if I live only for myself.
I can not say “Father” if I do not endeavor each day to live like His child.
I can not say “which art in heaven,” if I am laying no treasure there.
I can not say “hallowed be thy name” if I am not striving for holiness.
I can not say “Thy kingdom come,” if I am not doing all I can to hasten that wonderful event.
I can not say, “Thy will be done in earth” if I am disobedient to His word.
I can not say, “as it is in heaven” if I will not serve Him here and now.
I can not say “Give us this day our daily bread” if I am dishonest and seeing things by subterfuge (or deceit).
I can not say “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” if I harbor a grudge against anyone.
I can not say, “And lead us not into temptation,” if I deliberately place myself in the path of temptation.
I can not say “but deliver us from evil:” if I don’t put on the whole armor of God.
I can not say “For thine is the kingdom,” if I don’t give the King the loyalty due to Him by a faithful subject.
I can not attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what men my do to me.
I can not ascribe to Him “the glory,” if I am seeking only honor for myself.
I can not say “forever. Amen.” if my life is bounded completely by time.
Some tougher truths to chew on today, but I hope we’ll be better for it.